Yeah, Baby! As overplayed as that catchphrase may have been, the film that birthed it is the topic of my twenty-second film in the #52PickUp series:
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was a film that came out during the peak of my adolescence. I didn’t know it then, having never seen the James Bond films at that time, but Austin Powers is a parody of the 60s James Bond films with a hint of the Harry Palmer character played by Michael Caine.
Austin is the embodiment of the 60s culture: free love, peace, and mind-altering drugs (although it’s only referenced and he’s never seen partaking, it is PG-13 after all).The character begins his journey as a massive sex symbol in the 60s, regardless of his horrible dental hygiene.
His arch nemesis, Dr. Evil, is a madman bent on taking over the world, holding us hostage one nuclear warhead at a time. The character of Dr. Evil has had some contention, as it was rumored it was a parody of Lorne Michaels. But what’s worse is that he may have stolen Dana Carvey’s Lorne impression.
Dr. Evil escapes into a cryogenically frozen capsule and launches into space to orbit Earth until “peace and free love” aren’t a thing anymore. Austin, in turn freezes himself in case of Evil’s return. He awakes thirty years later when the Evil Doctorate recipient returns to Earth.
A lot has changed in 1997 and this is where some of the best comedic bits in the movie are found, with particular attention to the reanimation scene- one of the best scenes in all of comedies (which is said to be a parody of John Spartan’s reanimation in Demolition Man).
Austin bumbles his way through the defeat of Dr. Evil, mostly due to the brains of the operation: Vanessa Kensington (played by Elizabeth Hurley). As much as Austin was a famous spy, he was quite inept at the job.
Also, Seth Green plays Dr. Evil’s son, Scott Evil, in one of his best roles.
Where/ when did I first see it?
I had seen first seen this when it came out on home video at the end of 1997. The film was revolutionary, as it was responsible for my love of special features. I had stumbled across the deleted and alternate scenes that were featured after the credits ran through.
Apparently around its release in 1997, some home video releases tried to incorporate special features after the credits in an effort to “compete” with DVDs. Clearly one had an advantage with one-click jumps to each feature, but hey, who’s knocking them? At least they influenced some of us… to get DVDs more quickly.
How does it hold up?
Austin Powers has its moments of dated, typical catchphrases and scenes, but the film overall is a great parody of the 60s Bond films, and a stark reminder that even the smallest pieces can fit beautifully into one hell of a puzzle.
Some of its best material arises from its parody, and even then, they have shaped these jokes into the canon that is Austin Powers.
What did I like about it and why?
I hadn’t seen a single James Bond movie when I first watched this. Soon after, I went onto see the Pierce Brosnan introduction that is Goldeneye, and it was here that I appreciated the series more. Even if Daniel Craig said that Austin Powers killed the Bond series, I have to disagree as it led to me appreciating them more.
As a kid, the fun-loving spirit of the character (and his dim-witted line delivery), made me fond of the movie as well.
The cameos were fun too! From bigger roles like Will Ferrell as Mustafa to smaller spots from Michael McDonald (MadTV), Clint Howard, Carrie Fisher, Tom Arnold, and Rob Lowe in a deleted scene; there were many bit parts of people I had already seen and enjoyed in previous films.
- The 60s looked like a blast.
- James Bond is NOT dead! Listen to our discussion on this movie in Ep. 9 of Not Quite Hollywood (coming soon).
- Write these #52PickUps when you have more energy. Or right after seeing the film.
Where can you see it?
Check out Austin Powers on CanIStream.It?
Bonus! There were many early ideas that funneled into the conception of this film, one of which was an early sketch that Mike Myers wrote for Saturday Night Live where the villains of James Bond complain about how they can’t kill James Bond.